Vintage Halloween Party Ideas – Friday’s Faces from the Past

halloween greeting postcard
Do you think Holloween How-To books were birthed by Martha Stewart?  Nope.  Our obsession for harvest and Halloween themed parties, gatherings, and general mischief have been alive and well in our culture for well over a century.  Our consumer culture and love affair with Halloween has been portrayed with postcards, photographs, costumes, and food.  Lots, and lots, of food.

If you dream of bringing a vintage Halloween party to life, here are some great free vintage party planners, idea guides, and invitations.  There’s nothing finer than inviting friends and family to unite in a common goal of celebrating a holiday.  But why spend the money on expensive books and party ideas when you can find some unique ideas online for free?

Please be aware the content of some of these books are not politically correct.  If you are easily offended, you will definitely want to take a pass on these ideas and skip on to my Halloween Pinterest Page instead.

The Jolly Hallowe’en Book by Dorothy Shipman has some of the cutest examples of party invitations I’ve read.  Whether you’re making an e-vite or firing up the printer to send out your own cards, here are some quick and whitty ways to entice your guests to a fun night of party revelry.Halloween invites

Shipman’s book also includes songs, recitations (poetry readings), plays, games, and other amusements.  I was intreiguted by the idea of a progressive Halloween party, where children would go from house to house for activities, treats, and scary stories.  Throw in a little mystery and a talking dog, and you could almost have a Scooby-Doo episode.

Hallowe’en Festivities by Stanley Schell
 provides one of the largest and comprehensive turn-of-the-century guides for Halloween entertaining.  From decorating ideas, to short plays, poems, group activities, food, and fortune-telling, this book provides just about everything you need to be the hostess with the mostest.  Check out a snipit guide to decorating your home room by room:
halloween festivities

Moving from the decorations and the amusements, this book also has a great supper menu with corresponding entertainments to be had around the dinner table.
supper gamesThere’s also a great list of party games which are fun, quick, and don’t require a lot of preparation.  I think some of them require a great deal of imagination.  I could suggest using some inspiration from Pinterest to improve on some of these ideas.  Please note the suggestion, “No game should be continued after the fun has reached its height.”  From that statement, I’m pretty sure the author never had to host a party for a barrage of over-sugared kids before.
halloween program

For a compact guide to a vintage Halloween experience, you can find some great articles, ads, and magazine features online from Google Books and Chronicling America.  The San Francisco Call ran a full page Halloween entertainment guide on October 28, 1900.  The type of amusements and descriptions are really cool!
sundaycallHalloween hijinks seem like a waste of time and energy.  Any sort of property damage could lead to standing up in front of a judge just a few months later.  So imagine my surprise when found a ‘tell all’ of Halloween pranks circa 1910.  A few renegades submitted their previous year’s exploits for print in the Los Angeles Herald.  This example of destruction of property and harassment would have ignited a local media firestorm today:
Woah, kid!

If you can’t get enough of these vintage Halloween ideas, you can read a few of these honorable mentions:
Halloween Party Ideas from Ladies Home Journal (1916)
A Hallowe’en Dinner by United States. Department of Agriculture (1932)

Hallowe’en Ideas by United States. Department of Agriculture (1934)

Hints for Hallowe’en by United States. Department of Agriculture (1940)

Don’t forget!  The Bolingbrook Historic Preservation Commission is hosting its annual Boardman Cemetery Halloween Open House on Saturday, October 31 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  This is a free family-friendly event, so bring your little ones for trick-or-treating, a cup of hot chocolate, and guided tours by lantern light!  The cemetery is located on Paxson Road, just north of Royce Road, in Bolingbrook.  Here’s a handy map.  The red dot is the approximate location of the cemetery.
Boardman Cemetery mapHappy Halloween!

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Try-It! Illinois Database Season is Now Live! – Thrifty Thursday

Try-It Illinois LogoKick off your fall research season with the Try-It! Illinois Database Trial!

If you’re an Illinois resident with internet access of any kind, you are eligible to access the immense amount of information available during the this year’s trial. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White, the Illinois State Library, and numerous electronic resource vendors, Illinois residents can sample, evaluate, and utilize resources free of charge.

Every year, I like to highlight several of the databases for genealogical researchers. This time, however, I would like to highlight some of the best resources available on this year’s trial:

MyHeritage Library Edition
Digital Sanborn Maps Geo Edition
FOLD3 Library Edition
Historic Map Works Library Edition
Historical Chicago Defender (1909-1975)
Historical Chicago Tribune 1849 – 1992
Historical New York Times 1851 – 2012
Image Quest
Newspaper Archive Library Edition
ProQuest Newsstand
ProQuest Obituaries
Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War

There’s an amazing selection of new African American genealogical research resources, most notably ProQuest’s collections Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Federal Government Records, Organizational Records, and Personal Papers (1895-1996)  and the NAACP records pertaining to annual conferences, staff files, campaign files, youth department files, and other special records.

What is notably missing from this year’s selection is Ancestry Library Edition, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, and Heritage Quest.  If you would like to see them added to this year’s trial, send an e-mail to the Account Representatives for Gale Cengage and ProQuest.

My favorite new database award from this year’s trial goes to Image Quest, for it’s amazing array of photographs from museums and archives all over the world.  You will not want to miss the amazing collection of photographs from the Chicago History Museum, which is the single largest source of pictorial information for the Chicago metropolitan area from the early 19th century to the present.
Chicago History Museum
It also includes an extensive collection of photographic and print images related to American history before 1870.  You can browse, search, and save photos from the site quickly and conveniently.  I spent several hours today browsing through collections posted from the Chicago History Museum, British Library, National Portrait Gallery, Nativestock, National Geographic, and Panoramic Images.  This is a site you will definitely want visit and linger over.

Remember, you only have until November 30, 2014 to enjoy these databases for free from the comfort of your home.  If you think Fold3, Image Quest, or any of the databases on Try-It! Illinois would be a great addition to your local library’s databases, you will want to call or drop by the library to share your suggestions!

The next Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club Meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 14 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A.   Gloria Flathom, the DAR District IV Director will be presenting a program on how to research revolutionary war ancestors entitled Three Generations Without Documentation.  The Isle a la Cache chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will also be available to assist you with some of your application or research paperwork before and after the meeting.

All Genealogy Club meetings are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information on Genealogy Club events, please call the Fountaindale Public Library District at (630) 685-4201.

See You At the Library!


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New Releases to New York State Genealogical Records on Internet Archive – Tuesday’s Tip

NY_1822_Carey-webI’ve made a habit of scrolling through a the list of newly archived records on Internet Archive.  I love seeing all the new material appearing on the site to eager researchers such as myself, and I wasn’t disappointed with the long list of new items I found for New York state genealogy research!

A Few of the Gems:

Poll listA Copy of the Poll List, of the Election for Representatives for the City and County of New-York : which Election began on Monday the 23d day of January, and ended on Friday the 27th, of the same month, in the year of our Lord, MDCCLXIX (1769)
Voter registration lists may or may not be available for researcher due to privacy concerns.  What makes this title useful is how clearly and detailed the information is presented.  Individuals are listed, along with the date and the candidates of their choosing, in a clear and concise manner.  Any special designations are noted in the front  of the book.  Browsing through this title, I found great droll worthy information such as “Voted on his Right in the Seceder’s Meeting,” “Person qualified (sworn) with Respect to his Freehold,” and “Non-Resident”.  Easy to read, easy to browse, and easy to cite.  This book is definitely a winner!

Church Records, Katsbaan, New Yorkchurch records
Why something so specific and obscure?  Well, this title certainly sheds a lot of light on the records of a small Dutch Reformist community in upstate New York.  Their records are meticulous and well documented, with this particular book chronicling November 8, 1730 through February 27, 1755.  Where is this very cool and obscure place?  Saugerties (Ulster County), a small town about 30 minutes from Hudson.  If you’ve never heard of this church, don’t worry.  You can learn quite a bit about the church history on the Katsbaan Reformed Church website.

Ulster County, N.Y. Probate Records in the Office of the Surrogate, and in the County Clerk’s office at Kingston, N.Y. : a Careful Abstract and translation after Intestates, and Inventories from 1665, with Genealogical and Historical Notes, and list of Dutch and Frisian Baptismal Names with their English Equivalents

Yes, I know this is a long and slightly bewildering title.  But it’s well worth a look for the Ulster County genealogists!  Is it helpful to note there are two volumes to this collection?  I love reading through wills and inventories, because the type of items and statements found can be mortifying and priceless.  Also, there are several mentions to place names, best of which I found just a few days ago.
Crage WillYep.  “Dwarfs Kill.”  I couldn’t have made that up. It is also important to remember that slavery was legal in the colony, so be ready to come to grips with your ancestor’s slave owning reputation.

There are two great directories I’d like to bring to your attention: Brooklyn Directory (New York City), for the Years 1839-40 and Perkins’ Rural Directory 1909/10.  In your search to suss out ancestors in a non-census year, these items may come in handy.  Brooklyn is definitely an early city directory in a quiet cusp between the War of Independence and the Civil War, but the Perkins Rural Directory stands nearly toe to toe with a census and the First World War.  You will definitely want to consult these two items if your ancestors were residing in those areas.
The last two of my recommendations are diaries, which arefrontis always full of personal and social information that genealogists really should consult them more often.  The two diaries recently made available on Internet Archive take place nearly a century apart, one born in war and the other born in peacetime.  The Diary of Captain Daniel Roe, an Officer of the French and Indian War and of the Revolution is a blood, sweat, gun toting adventure read while Diary of the Little Girl in Old New York is a childhood reminiscence of Catherine Elizabeth Havens.  If anyone was wondering what a child of ten could possibly write about, check this out –
diary girlgirl diary 2Reading this gives everyone the uncomfortable realization that a ten year old in 1849 had more maturity than anyone twenty or thirty years older today.

Here are a few more interesting titles which you will want to read as well:

Genealogical record of the Saint Nicholas Society. Advanced Sheets, First Series

Records of the First church in Huntington, Long island, 1723-1779. Being the Record Kept by the Rev. Ebenezer Prime, the Pastor During Those Years

A History of the Establishment of the Hillsdale Rural Cemetery Association : Its Proceedings and their Results

Gazetteer and business directory of St. Lawrence County, N.Y. for 1873-4

So, what have you found on Internet Archive recently?  Leave your comments on our blog!

See you at the Library!

Posted in Books and Print Material, Local History and Genealogy, State Specific Research, Vital Records, Websites | Tagged | 2 Comments

Fall Back into Your Genealogy Research with Four Free New Programs! – Wisdom Wednesday

I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer break from our regular Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club Meetings.  Now that everyone has had an opportunity to travel, conduct research, and maybe hit up a few cemeteries with the BillionGraves App, its time to mark your calendars for the four outstanding free Genealogy Club programs we have coming up this fall.

We’re kicking off September with Jennifer Holik and her presentation of The Day That Lived in Infamy on Wednesday, jhinfamySeptember 9 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A of the Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook. Navigating World War II Military Records.  Learn the basics of how to begin researching your World War II military ancestors even when your requests for records are marked as ‘burned’. Jennifer assist participants through the process of researching sources such as military records, books, photographs, and family stories.
Jennifer has recently published two new WWII research guides entitled Stories from the World War II Battlefield which you can purchase online.  Her website also has a very helpful WWII Research Toolbox with a free downloadable research guide as well as helpful resource links.

eastlandThis year marks the 100th anniversary of Chicago’s most tragic maritime event.  The  DuPage Historical Museum, DuPage County Genealogical Society, and the Fountaindale Public Library have teamed up to bring you a program entitled “The Eastland Disaster – An Unparalleled Tragedy” on Wednesday, September 16 at 7 p.m.  This event is free and will be held at the DuPage County Historical Museum located at 102 E. Wesley Street, Wheaton.  A century after the accident occurred, the Eastland Disaster continues to haunt Chicago’s river geography and genealogy. Find out what happened during a presentation given by the Eastland Disaster Historical Society, featuring the two granddaughters of survivor Bobbie Aanstad.

Social hour and refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m., followed by a short business meeting of the DuPage County Genealogical Society.  Reserve tickets online or by calling 630-510-4941.

1ladyliberty003Fall is the perfect time to compile your family history goals for the winter.  Refine the search for your colonial era ancestors with our “Three Generations Without Documentation” program on Wednesday, October 14 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A.  Learn what resources and information are available when your paper trail goes cold!  The Isle a la Cache chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will be available for one on one consultations before and following the program.  The volunteers and genealogists in this group are very dedicated to helping new people discover their revolutionary ancestors, so if this is on your to-do list of projects you will certainly want to check out this program!

The last Genealogy Club meeting of the year will be held on Wednesday, November 11 at 7 Europe smallp.m. and will feature Jacquie Schattner’s “Guide to Overseas Genealogy”.  This is a great program where you will learn the history of immigrant travel into the US and the how to find records in most European countries.  Jacquie has presented several programs for CAGGNI, and she is a very knowledgeable speaker.  If you have ancestors from several European countries, this is a great way to learn about several before diving back into your research.

See You At The Library!

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Road Trip Audiobook Picks for Genealogists – Travel Tuesday

Well friends, it’s time to hit the road.  Pack those bags, book your airbnb accommodations, and seek those elusive genealogy records.  Whether you’re traveling by car, plane, or train, you’re going to want to bring along a few books to burn through your travel time, and I highly advocate picking up something in an audiobook format.

With the right narrator, audiobooks are the best format to take with you on a long trip, especially when you’re traveling solo.  You have the benefit of enjoying the sparkling conversation of another person without the long awkward silences.  And you never have to fight over the car radio, which is a bonus!

For the sake of this review, I’m linking directly to items available on  If you’re new to Audible, you can download a free audiobook with a 30 day trial membership.  Each book on the site offers an audio sample of the title, and user reviews which I have found to be very insightful.

One Summer, America 1927 by Bill Bryson
This is a must-read summer book!  I’m a gushing fangirl for anything Bill Bryson, and One summereverything I’ve read has been outstanding.  From the title, you could as ‘Why 1927?’  The answer is surprising.  Bill Bryson pens a journey through the front page headlines and equally obscure events of May through September 1927, leaving the reader engaged, entertained, and ready to read more!  From Babe Ruth’s home run streak to the Mississippi River flood, you’ll be privy to the misadventures of murders, anarchists, consumer goods, and Charles Lindburg’s transatlantic flight.   This is an amazing book that cannot be prized highly enough!

In the Garden Series by Nora Roberts
There are three books in this series – Blue Dahlia, Black Rose, and Red Lily.  What happens when you combine three unique women with a flower business and a genealogical murder mystery?  An excellent and compelling read!  Genealogists will enjoy the family research happenings  in the third book Red Lily, and there’s a slight problem with a researcher using a non-available federal census, but it’s a great read.  This is trilogy, so yes, you will want to read them in order.

Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mysteries by Steve Robinson
What type of trouble targets a hardworking genealogist?in the blood Jefferson Tayte manages to close genealogical cold cases successfully by siting sources, visiting clients, and thwarting the plans of past and present criminals.  From loyalist families swept up in the American War of Independence to the sinking of the Empress of Ireland, Steve Robinson has an excellent feel for blending family history with the elements of a detective story.  You will want to read his books in order: In the Blood, To the Grave, The Last Queen of England, and The Lost Empress.  To see the genealogy behind the books, visit his website.

On a related note: Want to read more about about tragedies at sea?  You’ll want to read Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson and a fictional genealogical adventure  Three Fates by Nora Roberts.  These two books are a combination great storytelling amid intense human drama.

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck
the oregon trailEver ponder a pioneer journey in a covered wagon headed west? Rinker Buck asked that question and soon found himself traveling the entire 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way, in a covered wagon led by a team of mules. An adventure true to the vein of a PBS mini-series, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey documents a journey which hasn’t been experienced in a century, and which manages to capture the history of the trail, its people, and how it shaped our nation. A pleasing read to anyone who has felt the need to move in the footsteps of their ancestors, this book will satisfy your need for history and adventure in one fell swoop.

Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine by By Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropfhunley
Emerging from the depths of Charleston Harbor, the H.L. Hunley is an amazing Civil War story of the Confederacy’s innovation and desperation to end an economic blockade. Designed as the first documented working submarine, the H.L. Hunley disappeared  on February 17, 1864, after a legendary encounter with a Union battleship somewhere in Charleston Harbor. Then, on August 8, 2000, with thousands of spectators crowding Charleston Harbor, the Hunley was raised from the bottom of the sea and towed ashore. I was on vacation with my family on the Isle of Palms near Charleston when the Hunley was rescued from Charleston Harbor, and the video footage from the event really sparked my imagination. To relive that summer of discovery, I checked out Raising the Hunley, and I loved it. There’s a shorter edition of this book for teens and older children entitled Secrets of a Civil War Submarine by  Sally M. Walker, and it’s a great way to share this amazing story with the next generation of family historians.

The Arcane Society Series by Jayne Ann Krentz, et all.arcane
Writing under three pen names for this series, author Jayne Ann Krentz has an thirteen book (and counting) series of which combines paranormal romance with family history. Interweaving past, present, and future members of several families, the Arcane Society is an engaging and well-paced series of a secret society of people with psychic abilities. Solving murders, investigating crimes, and keeping their exploits out of the newspapers is just part of life in the Arcane Society, and each book brings more of their adventures to light.  You can start the series with the first book Second Sight, and to plan your reading strategy going forward, you can find a full list of the series on Library Thing.

Quick List of More Great Reads:
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
A Skeleton in the Family
(Family Skeleton Mystery Series) by Leigh Perry
At Home: A Short History of Private Life
by Bill Bryson

wright brothers  skeleton in the family  at home
To keep costs low, visit your local library to checkout audiobooks.  For the low-tech oriented, you should be able to score just about any title on Audio CD or Playaway.  Playaways are brilliant for airplane trips, as they are simple to use and are small enough to put in your pocket.  If you’re in a hurry, and want to checkout items from home, try using your library’s digital collection of audiobooks online.

With a shiny new passport it looks like I’m off on a multi-city trip for genealogy research for the next few weeks.  Leave your comments or suggestions of your audiobook titles on our blog.  Go out there and make this summer’s road trip one to remember!

See you sometime in August!

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Making a Home on the Homestead – Those Places Thursday

During the course of your research, you’ll have a nagging feeling of neglect for a certain person or family group.  Maybe you were satisfied with your research and wondered off to more pressing projects.  Perhaps you hit a brick wall and left to pursue other projects out of frustration.  Or just maybe you were lured away by all those lovely Irish Parish Records which were just released for free online through the National Library of Ireland.  Lovely stuff, parish records.

I’ve just returned from a research trip in Northern Georgia, where I was lured to several cemeteries, libraries, and archives in search for records for my mother’s application for the Daughters of the American Revolution.  I think I have sources for nearly all the records I need now, apart from a few pesky marriage records.  (Why can’t I find a marriage for these people?  Geeze!)  After spending so much time researching the maternal line of my family, my post research trip priorities began to shift to my father’s homesteading ancestors.

The nagging feeling for switching gears in my research began with guilt.  Guilt that I’d been visiting with one side of the family more than the other.  Without a 1890 census for reference, I had to look at an 1885 Nebraska State Census and the 1900 US Federal Census.  Here are Frank and Anna Dudek with their children Agnes, Jennie, Frederick, Frank, and Albert as well as Anna’s mother Anna Kucera.  Heaven bless the 1900 Federal Census enumerator Andrew J. Ruddy, as he included a date of birth for all family members during his visit to the household on June 27, 1900.

Dudek 1900 Census
From the the original homestead record signed by President Garfield, I used Historic Map Works to overlay a 1899 plat map to the present day Google Earth map.  The 160 acre Dudek farm has been swallowed up by a larger farm, so the sod cabin, barns, and outbuilding are completely gone.

My new mission has been trying to piece together the lives of my ancestors on a former homestead property.Dudek horses  I have a few snippets of information from the original homestead document, a signed affidavit of property ownership (for legal or identity purposes), those gorgeous maps on Historic Map Works,  family stories, and a treasured photograph of Frank Dudek with his work horses.  My parents have Frank and Anna’s original bedroom suit, which they brought with them from Cleveland to Nebraska in 1883.  In a quick browse through the family library, I located at least three books which had been purchased for the Dudek children for their homestead adventure from 1883-1903 such as The Secret Garden, Black Beauty, and Rip Van Winkle.  Due to the ages of the children, it is a possibility the older girls received The Secret Garden and Black Beauty well before their younger brother scrawled his name ‘Bertie Dudek’ in each one of the books.

I watched all the episodes of the PBS series Frontier House in one night, and gleaned some ideas of what daily life was like on an 1882 farm.  The skills and tasks of traditional and modern farm life is available on The Prairie Homestead, which is a fantastic a wonderful resource!  The cheese making and natural insect repellent recipes are on my to-do list this week.  The Smithsonian Institute hosts a kid-friendly Life in a Sod House page with free downloadable worksheets and activities.  Simple, yes.  Entertaining?  Absolutely!  I wished I had access to these worksheets when I was growing up!

One of my last tasks in this mission to bring the past back to life was through the family dinner table.  What were some of the dishes they would have served or ate?  Frank and Anna Dudek were married in February 1882, and Anna may have received a cookbook as a wedding present or as a farewell gift before heading to their Nebraska farm in June 1883.  Staying true to the time period, I found a copy of Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery by Marion Harland and found an array of simple dishes, soups, and a hefty amount of household advice.  This recipe for Turkey Scallop sounds easy and rather interesting:
turkey scallop
I have a few alternative resource strategies to learn more about the Dudek family and their time in Nebraska.  I found a great downloadable resource from the Nebraska State Historical Society called A Place in History: Researching Your Nebraska Property.  It’s definitely a must-read for anyone researching Nebraska land records.

For anyone who’s interested in seeing a map overlay of your ancestor’s property, you will definitely want to register for a free Historic Map Works account, which includes a lot of the major services of the site at no charge.  Some of the premium resources can be purchased by subscription or on a pay-as-you-go format.  An annual subscription will set you back about $130, but check your local library or archive to see if they subscribe to the service.   Keep your fingers crossed, as Historic Map Works may be provided on this year’s Try-It! Illinois Database Trial in October and November 2015.  This trial will allow you to access Historic Map Works, Ancestry Library Edition, the Digital Sandborne Maps, Online Newspapers, and other amazing resources for free for the whole two month run of the trial.  I’ll have an update about Try-It! Illinois in early October.

So now, I have a new purpose for researching homesteading ancestors.  There are still a few questions I have regarding the land records, but now I have a new excuse to raid the family book shelves, write to extended cousins, and contact the Boone County Historical Society in Nebraska.  I can’t wait to get started!

The next Fountaindale Public Library Genealogy Club meeting will be on Wednesday, September 9 at 7 p.m. when Jennifer Holik will present The Day that Lived in Infamy: Researching Your World War II Ancestors.  Jennifer has published a two volume set of books on the subject which are available for purchase on Amazon.  She will also have copies of her books for sale on the day of the program.

Also in September, the Fox Valley Genealogical Society will host George G Morgan at their 22nd Annual Conference on Saturday, September 26.  Mr. Morgan will give four one-hour lecture topics on Locating and Accessing Published Genealogies Online, Five Reason the Records Aren’t In the Courthouse, Alternate Records You May Never Have Considered, and Sidestep Genealogy.  Tickets are available online or by mail, and you will definitely not want to miss it!

See You at the Library!

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Seven Summer Fun Ideas for Genealogists – Travel Tuesday

Summertime is fun time, and there’s nothing better than experiencing the history and family legend in a new location.  Whether you’re getting out of the house to research with your friends or you’re in need of a cultural holiday, here are ten suggestions which will help you take advantage of the beautiful weather. Pack up the car and get ready to take your genealogy and history adventures on the road this summer!

#1 The BillionGraves Field Trip
If you own the bumper sticker ‘I Break for Cemeteries’, you probably will want to take on abilliongravesgraphic BillionGraves Field Trip.  Break out your smart phone and get out of the house with fellow genealogists to capture cemetery headstones locations and transcriptions with the BillionGraves App.  You will want to bring your smartphone or data-plan enabled tablet, weather appropriate accessories, a good pair of sturdy shoes, and snacks and water for your outing.  If you need suggestions, you may want to try to survey these Chicagoland area sites: Wunders Lutheran CemeteryRidge Lawn Cemetery, and New Light Cemetery.
Cost: Snacks and Gas
Payoff: Good genealogical Karma

#2  Join a Meetup!
When you’re looking to recruit a genealogical posse, you will want to meet people who share some of your interests.  A great way to meet new people and enjoy social events, activities, and programs is by joining  Registration is free and the site offers groups of all interests and locations to plan and host events.  Here are a few of my favorite historical and cultural groups on the site:
Chicago Art Deco Society – Celebrates the unique aesthetic of the Interwar Period including fine and decorative arts, architecture and fashion that defined the elegant Art Deco and Streamline Modern era through Social Events, Historic Preservation, and Educational Lectures.
Walking Across Chicago – Celebrates notable figures and the inspirations for Chicago’s great streets, by walking the entire length of each street. The streets serve as a narrative thread weaving together disparate communities, industrial remnants and new developments, history and mystery.
The Northwest Chicago History Meetup Group – Meet others in your local area interested in the history of Chicago’s northwest side neighborhoods. This meetup hosts discussion groups, public tours and events, and dissemination of historical documents and photos though publications.
Culinary Historians of Chicago & Chicago Foodways Roundtable – This group studies the history of food and drink in human cultures, down to the procurement, preparation and social influences.  Bring your love of learning and your appetite to this meetup!
Cost: Transit and group fees (if any)
Payoff: New friends and fun experiences

#3  Take A Walking Tour
Break out the sneakers and put on your sunglasses!  Walking tours are a great activity when you’re flying solo or entertaining guests.  The Chicago History Museum offers walking tours of Bohemian National Cemetery, while the Chicago Architectural Foundation touts numerous walking tours including it’s immensely popular Devil and the White City Tour.  These tours often sell out ahead of time, so you’ll want to book your tickets online early!
Cost: $25 to $55 depending on the tour
Payoff: Fresh air, cool Facebook updates, and awesome selfie photos

#4  Catch a Silent Film
When you need a break from the evening heat, you won’t want to miss the Chicago Silent chicago silent filmFilm Society’s Summer Series on Thursdays at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge.  The Summer Series features movies from the best actors and actresses of the silent film era such as Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Loretta Young, Douglas Fairbanks, Buster Keaton, Rudolph Valentino, and Charlie Chaplin.  The series runs July 30 through September 3, and each event includes live organ performances and special musical acts.  The summer series movie list has not been released yet, but you can check for updates on the Chicago Silent Film Society website.
Cost: $7-$10 per film
Payoff: Unique movie experience and bragging rights

#5   Cool Online Classes
If you don’t have a library card but want to take an online class, check out the exceptional offerings on Future Learn.  Future Learn offers free online classes from some of Great Britain’s best universities to anyone aged 16 and older.  Classes last between three to six weeks, and encompass a variety of interests.  Some of the classes offered this summer are World War 1: Paris 1919 – A New World Order, England in the Time of King Richard III, and Irish Lives in War and Revolution: Exploring Ireland’s History 1912-1923.
Cost: Free
Payoff: Knowledge and new online friends

#6  Free Museum Nights
You don’t have to pay big bucks to see some of Chicago’s best museums!  Save your freemuseummuseum outings for the free days found throughout the summer, and you’ll have money left over for souvenirs and eating out.  You can find a full list of free summer museum days here.  Here’s another money saving tip: use SpotHero to find a cheap parking spot.  I paid $11 for a 6 hour parking space within a six minute walk to the Field Museum and a $12 all day parking spot across from the Museum of Modern Art.  Talk about a deal!
Cost: Free + Cost of Parking
Payoff: Museum entry and trouble-free parking

#7   Outside Research Sessions
Take your laptop, call your friends, and make a date at one of the many outside patios, restaurants, or rooftop decks around the city for a research session.  Time Out Chicago has a great list of locations  around the city and suburbs for all culinary tastes and budget points.  Make sure you have internet access and a full laptop battery, as not every location will have easy access for outlets and wi-fi.  I can personally recommend the rooftop space of Terzo Piano on the top floor of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Go on Thursdays for for a late lunch and stay from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for free entry to the museum.  If a beer garden is more your style, I suggest Gene’s Sausage Shop & Delicatessen.  Gene’s has an absolutely wonderful rooftop deck! In beautiful weather, you may need to finagle a table for you and your friends, but the beverages, fresh sausages, pretzels, and potato pancakes are well worth the wait!
Cost: $5 and up.  No judging on your bar tab.
Payoff:  Sun, fresh air, and help with research

Do you have a fun genealogy plan or activity for the summer?  Leave your suggestion on our blog!

See you at the Library!

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